According to the above New York Times article, Steve Jobs tried to create a manufacturing culture in Silicon Valley:
Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, had an abiding fascination with the tradition of Henry Ford and the original mass manufacturing of automobiles in Detroit, as well as the high-quality domestic manufacturing capabilities of Japanese companies like Sony….
In 1983, Mr. Jobs oversaw the construction of a state-of-the-art plant where the new Macintosh computer would be built. Reporters who toured it early on were told that the plant… was so advanced that factory labor would account for 2 percent of the cost of making a Macintosh….
“We don’t have a manufacturing culture,” Mr. [Jean-Louis] Gassée [, former president of Apple’s product division,] said of the nation’s high-technology heartland, “meaning the substrate, the schooling, the apprentices, the subcontractors.”
To begin building a manufacturing culture in the United States, we propose the creation of an Advanced Manufacturing High School in New York City.
In comparison to the United States, Germany has long had an institutional infrastructure in place that supports and promotes advanced manufacturing. German manufacturing firms are well supported at national and regional level, by education and training, the research infrastructure of the nation, and by other institutions such as employer associations and unions.
Digital companies tend to grow a whole lot faster than industrial age companies. It’s a lot quicker to scale up on Amazon Web Services than it is to build factories, deliver goods to showrooms, or establish global supply chains. Digital companies and business models also tend to scale more totally and rapidly than their predecessors. So while automobiles replaced horses in the industrial age, that took decades to happen and involved many different automobile manufacturers. When Amazon replaces the book industry, or Uber replaces the taxi industry, it happens a lot more rapidly, and there’s often one dominant player.
The main way the digital version of capitalism is more destructive is that most of these business models are not developed for long-term prosperity. The businesses do not need to succeed. They simply need to dominate their markets completely enough to establish monopolies, and then leverage those monopolies to move into new verticals. Amazon chose the book industry because it was low-hanging fruit: a vulnerable industry with no growth potential, easily disrupted by a player with a big enough war chest to undercut everyone’s margins. Amazon doesn’t need to make money with books.
While many VCs like to say they invest in people, very few of them have a goal to change the world, Blank explained. In reality, most of them have bosses, and singular goal is to make money.
“While they might like you, you’re just part of a liquidity Ponzi scheme,” he said. “Their only goal is to make you liquid or go public. They will support you to do that, but that’s about it.”
Chamath Palihapitiya, the outspoken Silicon Valley tech investor, called the start-up economy a charade on Wednesday, while also addressing the current the state of Social Capital, his embattled investment firm.
“We are, make no mistake … in the middle of an enormous multivariate kind of Ponzi scheme,” said Palihapitiya, at the Launch Scale conference in San Francisco.
Palihapitiya slammed the start-up cycle of raising funding rounds and spending money to boost user growth to attract bigger funding rounds.
“It’s all on paper, but it looks amazing,” Palihapitiya said. “You’ve been told to grow, so you’re growing. You’re doing your job.”
We face a form of capitalism that has hardened its focus to short-term profit maximization with little or no apparent interest in social good.
Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is the intelligence of a machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. While computers have beaten human beings in games such as chess and go, computers are not very good at human capacities such as language and understanding.
The key to computers understanding language and achieving AGI could be to take concepts from Jewish mysticism about the Hebrew alphabet and language, and apply these concepts to artificial intelligence.
Sir Isaac Newton was a devout Christian who wrote far more about theology, alchemy, and Jewish mysticism than he did about physics and mathematics. Newton believed that scripture provided a “code” to the natural world.
Today, we tend to make a distinction between science and faith, but to Newton it was all part of the same world. He believed that careful study of holy texts was a type of science. There is much to be gained from adopting Newton’s insight.
“AI’s Language Problem,” a MIT Technology Review article, begins with a description of AlphaGo and the recent success of deep learning:
AlphaGo’s surprising success points to just how much progress has been made in artificial intelligence over the last few years, after decades of frustration and setbacks often described as an “AI winter.” Deep learning means that machines can increasingly teach themselves how to perform complex tasks that only a couple of years ago were thought to require the unique intelligence of humans. Self-driving cars are already a foreseeable possibility. In the near future, systems based on deep learning will help diagnose diseases and recommend treatments.
It’s a sad truth of American life that the poorer you are the more you pay for banking.
For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, banks and other financial firms in 2016 generated $33 billion in fees related to overdrafts on checking accounts, this is the highest level in seven years. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has compared overdraft fees to a short-term loan with a 17,000% APR!
Mehrsa Baradaran, associate professor of law at the University of Georgia, and author of How the Other Half Banks, writes “As the banks are set up currently, the fees they charge are meant to dissuade small accounts, or accounts by people whose incomes are minimal and very uneven.”
As Baradaran writes in her book’s introduction, the banking industry has stopped serving those who are “too poor to bank”, pushing them into the arms of non-bank service providers to provide the most basic services: to cash pay checks, pay bills or transfer money. In exchange, she calculates that they fork over up to 10% of their income for these services.
In some cases, they don’t have an option: a bank may refuse to open an account for them. And banks have long been trying to “discourage” their smaller customers: fees on accounts where balances dip below a specified level even briefly can look extremely costly to a low-income household.
Financial Health for Everyone using Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology
Our vision is an audacious one: to increase the number of individuals with positive financial health and well-being. To achieve financial health, people need day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity. Financial health enables family stability, education, and upward mobility, not just for individuals today but across future generations. Promoting financial health is good for the American economy. Financially healthy consumers drive new opportunities for increased engagement, loyalty, and long-term revenue streams. Lasting financial health also has a positive macroeconomic impact on communities at local, regional, and national levels.
We are developing a financial adviser system with several artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to help achieve this goal. This system learns from historical data to predict the account balances of individuals for a future time period, identify the recurring charges in their spending, determine unexpected large expenses, and analyze the category-wise spending behavior of user groups.
In January 2014, The USPS Office of Inspector General published a white paper that endorsed a concept postal unions have quietly supported for years: The Postal Service should provide basic financial services to the 68 million American adults who don’t have bank accounts or who have limited access to bank services.
At his swearing-in ceremony in November 2013, APWU President Mark Dimondstein championed the idea – although he expressed it very differently than the OIG ever would. “To protect our jobs, we must enhance postal services,” Dimondstein told an audience of union members and friends. “Services such as basic, non-profit banking would be a great and real benefit to the people of this country, and a good answer to what I call ‘the Wall Street Banksters,’ who devastated the economy and with it the lives of millions of people.”
Soon after publication of the OIG paper, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who serves on the Senate Banking Committee, posted a blog supporting the idea. “If the Postal Service offered basic banking services – nothing fancy, just basic bill paying, check cashing and small dollar loans – then it could provide affordable financial services for underserved families, and, at the same time, shore up its own financial footing,” she wrote. Postal services in many other countries that offer such services have seen their earnings increase dramatically, Sen. Warren pointed out. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also supports the concept.
In April 2018, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would require every U.S. post office to provide basic banking services. “This is a solution to take on payday lenders, to take on the problems that the unbanked have all across the country. It’s a solution whose time has come,” Gillibrand said in an interview.
Postal Banking is Successful Around the World
91 percent of postal services worldwide offer financial services, serving 1.5 billion people. According to the Universal Postal Union, this makes the postal sector the second largest contributor to financial inclusion worldwide,” right behind the banking industry. Financial inclusion is the idea of increasing access to banking services for people who have traditionally been excluded. The concept of postal banking is not new to these shores. During the first half of the twentieth century, the United States Postal Savings System was a great promoter of financial inclusion, especially or new immigrants.
It’s a New Golden Age for Technology
The way forward in technology is building a vertically integrated company with a diverse team.
Your phone’s battery life could always be better, but it could have been much worse. Decades after John Hennessy and David Patterson invented the technology that made high-performance, low-power gadgets possible, they have received the ultimate honor—the $1 million ACM A.M. Turing Award, billed as the “Nobel Prize of Computing.” You can thank them quietly whenever you pull your phone out.
In the 1980s, the two professors (Hennessy from Stanford, Patterson from Berkeley) developed technology called RISC—the reduced instruction set computer. The gist: A CPU runs more efficiently if software feeds it a lot of simple instructions instead of fewer, but more complicated ones. Early programmers and chip designers took the latter route, since they could write shorter code, and leave the CPU to unpack it. But as programming languages got more sophisticated in the 1970s and 1980s, they took over the grunt work, translating high-level code written by humans into the litany of instructions the CPU needs. That made Hennessy and Patterson’s RISC concept make sense without inconveniencing software engineers.
99% of Processors today are RISC!
Chinese AI companies have leaped ahead, so that today the most valuable companies in computer vision, speech recognition, speech synthesis, machine translation, and drones are all Chinese companies.
~ Kai-Fu Lee
According to Gartner, the global enterprise value derived from AI will total $1.2 trillion this year, a 70 percent increase from 2017. AI-derived business value is projected to reach up to $3.9 trillion by 2022.
Who Will Control the Future of AI?
Will it be Chinese companies, or will it be American big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, or Facebook, who will use AI to increase their power or wealth; or will the benefits be more evenly and democratically available?
Our faith in the promise of America will move mountains and unleash unsuspected human potential where nothing will be impossible for us.
If we don’t want poverty in our nation, our businesses must pay living wages with decent benefits. And if we don’t want polluted air, water, and land, our businesses must behave in environmentally sustainable ways.